When it comes urinary tract infections or UTIs, don’t try to DIY. Consult a health professional for how to treat these common infections.
According to the American Urological Association, urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the second most common infection type in the U.S. UTIs are considered infections in any area of the urinary system: the kidneys, bladder and urethra. While UTIs are a very common and very treatable, they can also be annoying, painful, and potentially harmful if they are a chronic, reoccurring condition. For most UTI cases, Adena Primary Care
Providers (PCPs) can treat and help guide patients back to good urinary tract health.
How Common is Common?
It is estimated that there are over eight million UTIs each year in the U.S. Generally, UTIs are more common in women than men with approximately 10 in 25 women and three in 25 men having UTI symptoms during their lifetimes. Although less common, children can also get UTIs. These generally occur in children under the age of five years. “If your child needs to go more than normal, is “dancing” a lot, experiences pain when going, you should contact your Adena Pediatrician or PCP,” says Heather Nickel, Certified Nurse Practitioner at Adena Family Medicine - Woodlands. Other symptoms of UTIs include:
- Strong and frequent urges to urinate
- Cloudy, bloody, or strong-smelling urine
- Painful or burning sensation when urinating
- Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
- The feeling of constant bladder pressure
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle aches and abdominal or back pains
- Fever or mental confusion (severe)
“We often see UTIs impact our middle-age and elderly patients,” says Heather. “This may be the result of the inability to go to the bathroom as often, medications, lifestyles, or other comorbidities like diabetes or other chronic disease.” Urinary tract infections are usually caused by bacteria that enter the urethra and bladder, causing inflammation and infection. Because women’s urethras are shorter, there is more chance for bacteria to develop there. Conditions that can potentially trigger a UTI are:
- Not cleaning or urinating after sex (women)
- Wearing damp undergarments like swimsuits or workout shorts/pants for too long
- Over cleansing yourself using chemically harsh or fragrant soaps
- Not drinking enough water
- Not urinating enough
- Not wiping front to back (women)
Working the System
It is generally easy to test for and treat a UTI. The most common treatment is antibiotics, although it is standardly thought that 25 to 50 percent of uncomplicated UTI infections can clear on their own within a week. This is one way to avoid the overusing antibiotics and possibly reducing their effectiveness. “The good thing about Adena Health Center – Woodlands is we can test for UTIs at our on-site lab fairly quickly,” Heather adds. “That way, if it isn’t a UTI we aren’t erroneously prescribing an unneeded antibiotic.”
Don’t Freak if Frequent
It is important that if you have frequent or lengthy UTIs to see a doctor. “Left untreated, the infection can spread to your kidneys, causing sepsis which can be life-threatening, or permanent kidney damage,” says Heather. If you are getting frequent or reoccurring UTIs, don’t get discouraged. Talk to your Adena Primary Care Provider who can either recommend the right low dose of antibiotics, or possibly refer you to Adena Urology for further testing.
“What we mainly want people to know is that UTIs are common. They can run their course, but they shouldn’t be ignored if frequent or if symptoms escalate,” she says. Patients can easily call their Adena PCP for guidance if they think they have a UTI, or schedule an appointment to make sure they are addressing any potential issues. New patients can call 740-779-FIND (3463) to help find a physician near you, or learn more about the many ways Adena serves the health of our community by visiting Adena.org.